Obituary: Woman who rode to Scotland in a sidecar dies aged 104

Gladys Dashwood raising a wine glass on a previous birthday

Raise a glass to Gladys! Not many 104-year-old's can say they've ridden more than 400 miles in the sidecar of a motorbike, but Gladys Dashwood could. Her family has paid tribute to their "kind" aunty - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

A “kind and loving” woman who once travelled more than 400 miles to Scotland in the sidecar of her husband’s motorbike, has died aged 104. 

No stranger to covering long distances, Gladys Dashwood, of Norwich, also recalled walking as a young tot alongside her mother and baby brother more than five miles to visit her grandfather. And although she never shared the secret of her longevity, her family has praised her good nature for lending a helping hand.

Gladys Winifred Walker was born during the First World War on August 25, 1917, in a small cottage off Church Lane in Sprowston, close to St Mary's and St Margaret's. Later, the family would relocate to Blue Boar Lane. 

Gladys Dashwood pictured as a young girl

Mrs Dashwood was born Gladys Winifred Walker during the First World War. Here she is pictured as a young girl - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Born into a hard-working family, but one plagued by poverty, she was one of 12 siblings. Only nine of them survived though, as three died as infants.  

One of her nieces, Jan Platten, of Hellesdon, said: “Although she was one of the youngest of the family, she would have been old enough to experience and recollect the sorrow and sadness of the loss of the babies.” 

One of the only remaining memories that she shared about her childhood was that of walking from her home in Church Lane to Little Plumstead, where her grandfather worked as a brickmaker. She remembered walking beside a pram pushed by her mother and occupied by her newborn baby brother. 

While not much is known about Mrs Dashwood’s early life, she married Donald Dashwood, a Norwich man, during the 1930s when they were both aged in their twenties. 

Donald and Gladys Dashwood on their wedding day during the 1930s

Donald and Gladys Dashwood on their wedding day during the 1930s. They would go on to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

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The couple moved to Hellesdon, where they had an air raid shelter erected at the bottom of the garden. 

During the 1950s, Mr Dashwood became a lecturer at Norwich City College, teaching building skills to young people. Mrs Dashwood’s working life was spent in domestic services and she worked for a number of wealthy families in their homes. 

Although the couple never had children of their own, Mrs Dashwood enjoyed spending times with her nieces and nephews, as well as neighbours’ children over the years. 

Mrs Platten added: “She loved children and would often spend time with us. She was a kind and loving auntie and friend to many. 

“At times she could be anxious and she did have trouble with backache but she was affectionate and quite good fun to be with. 

“She also loved her garden and flowers.” 

Donald and Gladys Dashwood enjoying a moment together in their later years

Donald and Gladys Dashwood enjoying a moment together in their later years - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Another passion she had was going on holiday with Mr Dashwood, especially to Scotland. On one occasion, she travelled there in a sidecar, while her husband rode a motorbike. Their luggage was shipped via rail, which she said was apparently the “done thing in those days”. 

The couple also holidayed along the south coast, upgrading the motorbike to a touring caravan to travel across the country. 

They eventually moved from Hellesdon to Stoke Holy Cross, before settling at Tivetshall St Mary where they made a number of close friends. Once there, Mrs Dashwood became a member of the church choir and would also do bible readings. 

“She was very involved with village life and the church, as well as cooking and baking,” Mrs Platten said. 

“In later life, she did not take things too seriously and retained a good memory until her last year of life.” 

Gladys Dashwood (pictured bottom centre) enjoying a special moment with her family

Gladys Dashwood (pictured bottom centre) enjoying a special moment with her family - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Mr Dashwood died in 2000, leaving Mrs Dashwood a widower for more than two decades. Fourteen years ago, she moved to Saxlingham Hall Nursing Home, aged 90. There, she enjoyed knitting and sewing. 

Mrs Dashwood died on December 7, aged 104, and her funeral took place on December 31. 


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